The Dallas Stars made a move to strengthen their backup goaltending position Wednesday, acquiring Jhonas Enroth from the Buffalo Sabres for goaltender Anders Lindback and a conditional third-round pick in 2016.
“We’re in the stretch run here and you are always looking to add some veteran experience, presence,” Stars GM Jim Nill said. “We’re in a battle to make the playoffs. [Enroth] has had a great season and in his career he’s played more than 100 games. He just has more experience than the other guys had. We just felt we needed to add that.”
The Stars, who have pulled to within three points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, have 28 games over the final 59 days of the season. Within that schedule there are five sets of back-to-back games. With Kari Lehtonen already having pulled a big load this season, the Stars believe Enroth is a guy they can count on to pick up some games down the stretch to spell Lehtonen.
“That’s a big part of it. We know the goalie is going to have to play five to ten games down the stretch. It’s a lot of hockey,” Nill said. “Either with the back-to-backs or with injuries, we just need to protect ourselves. The players have fought so hard to get back into this; we just needed to protect ourselves in case something happens.”
The Stars got a good look at the 5-10, 166-pound Enroth during their recent road trip. Enroth stopped 38 of 40 shots in the Sabres’ 3-2 win over the Stars on Saturday. Enroth is 13-21-2 this season with a 3.27 goals-against average and .903 save percentage. Those are his numbers while backstopping the 30th ranked team in the league and facing an average of 34 shots per night.
“He’s had a good year in Buffalo,” Nill said. “Every night he is getting a lot of shots and keeping his team in games.”
The 26-year-old Swede has been money in shootouts this season, posting a 5-0 record and stopping 20 of 21 shooters. Enroth has played a total of 118 NHL games – all of them with Buffalo – posting a 38-56-14 record, 2.92 goals-against average and .910 save percentage.
Stars coach Lindy Ruff is familiar with Enroth, whom he coached in Buffalo.
“He’s got a good history with Lindy,” Nill said. “Lindy is very high on him and very comfortable with him. It’s a good fit.”
The backup spot has been an issue for the Stars this season. Anders Lindback posted a 2-8-0 record with a 3.71 goals-against average and .875 save percentage. Both of Lindback’s wins came in relief.
“To be fair to Anders Lindback, he didn’t get to play lots with us,” Nill said. “I think it is going to be a great opportunity for him to go to Buffalo, play lots of games and get his career going.”
Buffalo is guaranteed a third-round pick in the deal. It becomes a second-round pick if Enroth wins four playoff games for Dallas, according to Sabres GM Tim Murray.
Enroth is in the final year of a two-year deal that pays him $1.25 million per season. He is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
Enroth, who will wear No. 1 for the Stars, is expected to arrive in Dallas sometime Thursday afternoon. He is expected to hit the ice with the Stars Friday morning at the American Airlines Center when the Stars prepare to take on the Florida Panthers that night.
Notes: McKenzie up, Ritchie down
*The Dallas Stars recalled left wing Curtis McKenzie from the Texas Stars of the AHL on Wednesday. The Stars reassigned right wing Brett Ritchie to Texas.
*Stars forward Antoine Roussel is scheduled to have a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety Thursday for his cross check on Boston’s Adam McQuaid in Tuesday’s game.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.